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Why the Drama? Civic Competence and Political Learning in Entertainment Television

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In this paper we explore the effect of entertainment television on citizens’ political understanding and performance in the United States, the Netherlands and Greece. In this comparative study, we are particularly interested in the concept of civic competence, the ability of citizens to perform their civic duties and understand the political world. Our earlier research in the United States shows that TV dramas are rich environments for raising citizen’s understanding of politics as they contain significant amounts of political content (Graber 2006). In this paper, we ask whether political messages of American TV dramas carry a uniform meaning across different political cultures. How do viewers in countries of north and south Europe understand political debates and issues that are addressed in TV dramas that are “imported”? Do they separate fiction from fact, and how does the content of the shows influence their political learning? We argue that television dramas play an important role in the understanding of politics because people understand the world through stories. Television extends the boundaries of story telling beyond regional borders, providing common frames of reference to millions of people around the globe. Here we present the analysis of our interview data from the United States, the Netherlands and Greece and assess the impact of TV drama exposure on the viewers’ political knowledge and complexity of political reasoning.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

polit (154), show (140), inform (136), drama (84), tv (80), viewer (73), learn (69), tv-drama (63), 0 (60), usa (46), valu (44), watch (42), greec (42), civic (41), respond (40), netherland (39), understand (38), citizen (37), particip (37), entertain (37), iq (34),

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civic learning, political knowledge, television, dramas, entertainment
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MLA Citation:

Graber, Doris., Capelos, Tereza., Holyk, Gregory. and Ensink, Sander. "Why the Drama? Civic Competence and Political Learning in Entertainment Television" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISPP 31st Annual Scientific Meeting, Sciences Po, Paris, France, Jul 09, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-14 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p256235_index.html>

APA Citation:

Graber, D. , Capelos, T. , Holyk, G. and Ensink, S. , 2008-07-09 "Why the Drama? Civic Competence and Political Learning in Entertainment Television" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISPP 31st Annual Scientific Meeting, Sciences Po, Paris, France Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2013-12-14 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p256235_index.html

Publication Type: Paper (prepared oral presentation)
Abstract: In this paper we explore the effect of entertainment television on citizens’ political understanding and performance in the United States, the Netherlands and Greece. In this comparative study, we are particularly interested in the concept of civic competence, the ability of citizens to perform their civic duties and understand the political world. Our earlier research in the United States shows that TV dramas are rich environments for raising citizen’s understanding of politics as they contain significant amounts of political content (Graber 2006). In this paper, we ask whether political messages of American TV dramas carry a uniform meaning across different political cultures. How do viewers in countries of north and south Europe understand political debates and issues that are addressed in TV dramas that are “imported”? Do they separate fiction from fact, and how does the content of the shows influence their political learning? We argue that television dramas play an important role in the understanding of politics because people understand the world through stories. Television extends the boundaries of story telling beyond regional borders, providing common frames of reference to millions of people around the globe. Here we present the analysis of our interview data from the United States, the Netherlands and Greece and assess the impact of TV drama exposure on the viewers’ political knowledge and complexity of political reasoning.

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Associated Document Available ISPP 31st Annual Scientific Meeting
Associated Document Available Political Research Online
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Document Type: application/pdf
Page count: 27
Word count: 9831
Text sample:
WHY THE DRAMA? CIVIC COMPETENCE AND POLITICAL LEARNING IN ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION Doris Graber University of Illinois Chicago dgraber@uic.edu Tereza Capelos University of Surrey t.capelos@surrey.ac.uk Gregory Holyk University of Illinois Chicago Sander Ensink University of Leiden Paper presented to the International Society of Political Psychology 9-12 July 2008 Paris France Abstract The impact of entertainment shows on political information acquisition is often overlooked in comparison to news broadcasts which are considered the main source of political information in modern nations.
Exposure to Information: A critical Review. Public Opinion Quarterly 31(2) 194—213. Soltan K. E. Civic Competence Democracy and the Good Society In Citizen Competence and Democratic Institutions (eds) .The Pennsylvania State University Press 1999 Thorndike E.L. 1920 ?? 26 Tokosumi Norikazu Yoshimine Akifumi 1999 "Toward A Cognitive Model of Empathy in Aesthetic Experience" Willing Richard 2004. "'CSI effect' has juries wanting more evidence" USA Today August 5 2004 Zaller J. R. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge


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